Beshear signs bill to approve Honors College and International Center

Taylor Harrison

Gov. Steve Beshear signed the agency bond bill last Thursday that will allow WKU to sell bonds to fund the Honors College and International Center.

President Gary Ransdell said he had no doubt the governor would sign the bill once it passed through the House and the senate, since the governor has advocated the bill in the past.

The agency bond bill combined 11 construction projects from six different universities for the first time, rather than each university doing it individually, and Ransdell could see this happening again.

“This worked well,” Ransdell said. “The universities worked well together.”

The bill only sought approval to sell bonds; the universities were not requesting money to fund the project. They had to have a revenue stream to fund the projects themselves.

For WKU, this revenue stream will come from the Navitas program, a program geared toward preparing international students for university studies.

“So in this particular case, using the out of state differential for Navitas students, we were able to correlate that revenue stream with this project and it was a good match and a dependable match for the long term,” Ransdell said.

Due to the success and growth of both the Honors College and the growing population of international students, Ransdell said this is an important project.

“I think this is clearly a strategic priority and an important new dimension for WKU,” he said.

Ann Mead, vice president for finance and administration, said Navitas enrollment has been growing.

“It had to grow and had to be sufficient for us to be able to issue bonds next year,” she said.

Because of this growth, there will be enough extra money from the program next year to pay for the bonds to fund the project.

“We’re ready to move forward now that we have legislative authorization,” Mead said.

Ransdell also said WKU is ready to move along with the Honors College and International Center plans now that the bill has passed.

“The architect is at work designing the building and we are in the process of completing property acquisition, and that’s been a little bit slower, more arduous process than I would’ve maybe thought or liked, but it’s moving along,” he said.

As far as property acquisition, WKU is in negotiations with Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and Chi Omega sorority to obtain their properties.

The Sig Eps are currently raising money to pay off their mortgage so they can swap properties with the university and move to Cherry Hill Place, which the university currently owns.

WKU is also working with the Chi Os to find a good property to buy that they will then be able to swap for the current Chi O property.

The university met with the owners of the apartment complex near the Chi O and Sig Ep houses last week, as they also want to acquire that property, and are starting the appraisal process.

While Ransdell said they weren’t necessarily interested in selling the complex, the owners understand the process WKU is going through and will entertain an offer.

“They’re working with us,” he said.